(Luk 22:17-20 ESV) 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Did you notice? I didn’t. Not the first thousand times I read this passage. But a friend made a point about this passage that I’d never noticed before: Jesus gave thanks.
Now, the Gospels are carefully written books. They only include details that matter. Why does it matter that Jesus gave thanks? To show that he, like all good Jews, prayed before eating?
No, I think the meaning is deeper. A lot deeper. You see, Jesus gave thanks for what he was about to drink and what he was about to eat — his own death. His own sacrifice.
I don’t know about you, but I give thanks for what I like. And I like a good meal. I don’t think that if I was about to be hung on a cross that I’d be in a very thankful mood. I can imagine being willing — but that’s the limit of my imagination. I can’t even imagine being grateful.
Why was Jesus grateful for his own crucifixion? Well, it did it voluntarily because it was necessary for our good, for us to enter the Kingdom, for us to be forgiven. Jesus figured it was worth it.
And the New Testament teaches that we’ve been saved to become like Jesus.
(Eph 5:1-2 ESV) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
We are saved to walk in love for each other, to be sacrifices for each other, and ultimately to be grateful that God has given us the opportunity to sacrifice for each other and for all who are in need.
This is no easy thing. It wasn’t even easy for Jesus, but he did it. And he’s our example.
As we take this bread, let’s recall not only the sacrificed body of Jesus, but that he gave thanks for this sacrifice, knowing that it would led to the salvation of millions who would also sacrifice themselves for others — gratefully.